The Future of Enterprise Forms Management – The Kudzu Vines Way!
There’s one thing that all organizations have lots of…and that’s forms. Forms for employees coming, employees going, customers buying, customers complaining, vendors looking to get paid, and more. The forms come in all shapes, sizes, and formats. Some are process-enabled, others not-so-much. Some are in formats that are not easily digestible into digital formats or converted to another format while others are bound to point solutions where the forms and data behind them are difficult to reclaim/repurpose if that point solution is ever retired or the solution provider goes out of business. And then you have the web platforms that promise speed, agility, and more…but you still have another solution to support, another solution that needs branding, and another solution that is likely siloed from the rest of your organization.
And this is the challenge we’re helping customers overcome with Vines. We started with Uniform™. The idea was essentially to have a universal translator and model that was verbose and flexible enough to describe virtually any form format. We believe we’ve largely achieved that given the growing range of connectors we currently support…not going to have a roadmap discussion today, but there’s a lot more coming. Around Uniform we built a robust connector framework which supports the reading/writing of forms and the data behind them. So we can read an InfoPath form from SharePoint along with the schemas and data associated with any SharePoint list(s) that back the form. Then turn around and write that out as a K2 SmartForm linked up to the same SharePoint list(s) or somewhere new…a SQL table or tables for example. We could then write it out as a PowerApps app and even a fillable PDF.
Kind of sounds like a pretty powerful forms conversion/migration tool. While that is a good starting point, it’s much more. It also serves as a means of future-proofing your forms development efforts, by preserving your forms in a model that can be re-used to author forms to new platforms as they become available in the marketplace and supported by Vines. Future versions will surface additional capabilities (…no sneak peeks today) that will further simplify and in some cases remove the challenges associated with managing forms in an enterprise.
We’re also focused on accelerating ideation. As a starting point we developed a very robust connector for Balsamiq…a leading ideation/mock-up platform. This is important because while most form technologies have robust authoring tools, they require at least some understanding of form construction. It would be like a builder asking a home buyer to draw up some blueprints for them with no knowledge of building code and hope they produce something useful. Now the builder could hand them a piece of paper and pencil and say draw it for me, hand that to an architect who does understand building code, and have them transform it into something the builder can use to build the house. Along those lines, you can hand Balsamiq to a non-technical user (…what do we call them today, Citizen Developers?), let them “draw” the form, then flip over to Vines read it in, and write it out to your target. Imagine taking what amounts to a drawing from a business user and being able to show them a working form wired up to data objects in a few clicks.
So what did we learn today? Organizations have forms. Managing those forms can be expensive and problematic. We’re delivering a solution that can help.
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